In a last-ditch effort to prevent members of the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party bloc of the All Progressives Congress from defecting from the party, the leadership of the APC has met with the Kawu Baraje-led nPDP.
The two-hour meeting at the APC National Secretariat, Abuja, on Monday, was chaired by the APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu.
A top-ranking party leader who was at the meeting but spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media about details of the meeting, said, “Essentially, they reiterated grievances listed in their letter to the party.
“More than anything else, they were concerned about the ongoing court and tribunal cases against people like the Senate President and cases of threats and harassments which they said members of the nPDP bloc were subjected to.
“The fact that we are meeting with them is a sign that we are interested in finding a solution. We assured them that we would look at the issues and meet with the President who is the leader of the party. We are looking at the possibility of them meeting with the President.”
The source explained that Monday’s meeting was the first in a series of meetings aimed at resolving the dispute.
In a response to a question on why the party appeared to have had a change of heart, he said, “No party will be happy to lose members, at least not this close to an election.”
After the meeting, Shuaibu told newsmen that the party acknowledged the fact that the grievances expressed by the nPDP members of the party were genuine.
He noted that although the issues had not been resolved, the party was looking into them with a view to finding an amicable resolution.
While responding to a question on whether the issues had been resolved, he said, “We have not yet resolved. They wrote a letter to us, they are party men, they have grievances, we looked at the letter, and their grievances are genuine.
“They requested a meeting within seven days and before the seven days expired, I called them and they were not ready to come, they said we should shift the meeting till today, which we did.
“So, we are listening to them; we have listened to them and we are taking their matter seriously. We will address it. We don’t ignore our people except if you don’t send your grievances to the party, but if you send, we will always address your grievances.
Earlier, Baraje told reporters that he was leading over 95.9 per cent of the members of the defunct nPDP, who joined the APC and was not bothered that a “splinter group” from within the nPDP saw things differently.
He said, “You are aware that we requested that we wanted to see the party, and the party, very sensitive party, very responsible party, responded to our requests adequately and we think it is a very encouraging time.
“Since last week, they’ve got across to us but because of one logistics or the other, we couldn’t come until today.
“We begged the party to shift the day till today and today we have seen our party. We are party members, this office is our office, we have only come home to discuss those observations we raised in our letter. The meeting was very beautiful.”
On issues discussed, he said, “We have addressed all the requests. We have not concluded, the discussions continue.”
Asked if the group was satisfied with the reception given it by the party leadership, he said, “So far so good, we have just started. And when you start a race, you don’t say whether somebody wants to see you until you are getting to the middle or to the end. But it is a good start, it is a good beginning.